World in View: Reaction rises in Brazil and Costa Rica

March 12, 2018

From the March-April 2018 issue of News & Letters

Elections in Brazil and Costa Rica show that the ominous rise of Far Right and authoritarian politics across the world continues. Racist and homophobic politicians have moved from the fringes to contend for state power.

This follows the election of billionaire businessman Sebastian Pinera to the presidency of Chile in December, and the strong showing of right-wing Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s Congressional candidates in October.

Fabricio Alvarado in Costa Rica and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil represent a further step down an anti-human path. Bolsonaro in particular identifies with the most reactionary statements and policies of Donald Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.


Christian fundamentalist Fabricio Alvarado, of the right-wing National Restoration Party (NRP), was a surprise first round leader in Costa Rica’s February presidential election with 24.8% of the votes. His party went from having only one parliamentary representative to holding 14 of 57 seats.

The NRP’s entire campaign was focused on opposition to legalizing same-sex unions, as recently recommended by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Costa Rica’s current government favors this idea, and same-sex marriage is recognized in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and elsewhere in the region.

Alvarado also opposes sex education and feminism. In his words, “All the vestiges of gender ideology will be eliminated from public policy in Costa Rica.”

Alvarado will face a runoff election against the second place finisher, former Labor Minister Carlos Alvarado Quesada, who received 21.8%.


If Alvarado is bad, Brazilian legislator and presidential candidate Bolsonaro is worse. In casting his vote in the Chamber of Deputies to impeach former president Dilma Rousseff, he praised the military unit that had tortured her and other prisoners during the years of dictatorship.

He has said, “I’d rather have a dead son than a gay son.” He told Human Rights Minister Maria do Rosario, “I wouldn’t rape you because you don’t deserve it.”

Of Afro-Brazilians, the descendants of the enslaved, Bolsonaro said, “They don’t do anything. They aren’t even useful for breeding.” Of Haitian, African and Syrian immigrants he said, “The scum of the world is coming to Brazil.”

Despite these fascist views, he is very popular among wealthy and white voters. He also has a base among the growing number of fundamentalist Christians. Bolsonaro was running second only to former President Jose Inacio Lula da Silva in polls, and has a real chance of being elected.

—Gerry Emmett



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